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Patriots.com News Blitz - 12/20/05

Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that rarely are games like the trip to the Meadowlands on Monday night to face the Jets completely meaningless, but this one comes close. New England is locked into either the No. 3 or 4 seed, which gives it a game against a wild-card team at Gillette Stadium during the first weekend of postseason play. According to Belichick, playoffs are not the chief concern at this point and he is not planning to rest players as of yet. "It's a regular week," he said. "Put it in the headline, bold type: it's a regular week." John Tomase of the Boston Herald also offers a similar report.

Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe reports that Patrick Pass was the top vote-getter at fullback for Pro Bowl balloting which ended last Friday. ''It's a great thing that you have fans that notice you and take notice of some things that you're doing on the field," Pass said yesterday. ''I'm speechless.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that coach Bill Belichick had plenty of praise for his team yesterday, two days after the Pats rolled to a 28-0 victory. "I thought they played their best game of the year, overall," Belichick said. "There are still a lot of things that can be done better, but it was a pretty solid effort." Other than a pair of breakdowns in kick coverage, the Patriots excelled. They improved to sixth in the NFL in rushing defense — a staggering leap from 27th just over a month ago — and the offense threw for three touchdowns against the league's No. 2 overall defense. The Pats also recorded seven sacks and a fumble recovery.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald offers a story on Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi. Not many people thought it was possible to see that version of No. 54 this year, given his late arrival to the scene and the unusual circumstances surrounding it. But that was the football player who was on display Saturday afternoon against Tampa Bay. There was no need to check if you were watching an ESPN Classic. That was vintage Bruschi stomping all over the Bucs. Bruschi led the team with 11 tackles, two sacks, a pass defended and a forced fumble. Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal offers a similar report on Bruschi.

Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal writes that the Patriots focus in the last two regular-season contests will be on gaining confidence and overall improvement. "We went a long way this year before we showed improvement," said Belichick. "I wish things came together sooner than they did. The fact that they are there now doesn't mean it can't go back in the other direction. Just because you do things well for a couple of games doesn't mean you are going to sustain that. You need to keep working at it and take care of the little things."

Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant writes that next up for the Patriots are the Jets (3-11) Monday night at the Meadowlands, followed by the regular season finale against the Dolphins (7-7) Jan. 1 in Foxborough. The Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4) are the probable No. 5 AFC playoff seed and, therefore, the Patriots' most likely opponent the weekend of Jan. 7-8 at Gillette Stadium.

David Pevear of the Lowell Sun writes that the Patriots defense sacked Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms seven times - two sacks each by Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi - and held the Buccaneers to 138 total yards, the fewest allowed by New England this season. The Patriots have allowed 10 points over their last three games - the stingiest three-game span in franchise history.

Glen Farley of The Enterprise offers a story on Patriots fullback Heath Evans.

Peter King of SI.com discusses Tom Brady's 3 touchdown performance against the no. 2 rated defense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his weekly "Monday Morning Quarterback" column.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his analysis of the Patriots win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest mailbag where he answers your questions.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.

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